Thursday 8 December 2016

Why Irish Companies Should ‘Think Outside the Desk’

Eleanor Collier

Published 10/11/2016 | 15:39

The efficiencies and benefits of working flexibly are becoming more and more apparent for Irish companies.

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 ‘Thinking outside the desk’ is the new way forward in creating a mobile, empowered, modern workplace. 

For businesses that want to create a positive culture, build a highly-engaged workforce and recruit and retain top employees; making the decision to offer alternative ways of working can be the key to also reducing overheads and benefiting the bottom line.

Attitudes towards working remotely have changed and the offer of flexible workstyles has become the norm across all sectors, from SMEs to large multinationals.

Here are the top 3 reasons that Irish companies should consider embracing the benefits of working flexibly: 

1. Increase in Productivity

Businesses of all sizes are now taking advantage of the convergence of cloud and mobile technology to enhance collaboration and productivity, accommodate different work styles and reduce costs. 

If getting to the office is challenging for some employees who want to avoid long commutes, spend more time with young families or work differently, it may be time to consider offering them the flexibility to work from home. In addition to being environmentally friendly and promoting a better work / life balance, the move can increase productivity, simply by reducing time spent sitting in traffic congestion.

While face to face meetings are still essential, especially in Ireland which is still very much relationship based, not every meeting has to be face to face.  Online webinars are becoming a more prevalent and effective tool and companies can reduce travel and administration costs by replacing some meetings with online meetings. 

Cloud-based productivity tools can allow teams to communicate and collaborate effectively.  A good work culture is built on trust and it is not where teams are located but what they achieve.  The right tools and technology can ensure that projects are completed seamlessly regardless of the location of participants.

Employees are already mobile by nature.  The world reached a new milestone in 2014, as mobile devices began to outnumber people for the first time. Mobile technology is now multiplying five times faster than the global population, at a rate of about 10 new devices every second. 

As mobile technology continues to redefine how and where people communicate and collaborate, companies now have the opportunity to tap into this developing market and capitalize on the evolving mobile workforce as their business grows.  It makes sense to follow this trend.

2.  Happier and Healthier Employees – ‘Work without Walls’

Meetings are still at the centre of modern business.  They provide valuable opportunities for people to brainstorm, collaborate, share information and strategize.  However it’s no longer necessary for all the contributors to be in the one location.  The key is to modernize business gatherings with tools like video calling, co-authoring, app sharing and the ability to share your screen in real-time with collaborators, regardless of where they are in the world.

Need a response urgently and don’t have time to wait for an email? Then ‘ping’ them using instant messaging functionality and then add voice, video and screen sharing as the conversation evolves.  With just a click or two it’s possible to initiate an IM chat, share documents or set up an online meeting.

Working from home can have a massive influence on the health of employees, allowing them to achieve a better work / life balance, which in turn can significantly benefit their contribution to the business.

‘Work without Walls’, a Microsoft survey, revealed that 45% of employees said that they were ‘more productive’ when working from home rather than being in an office enviroment. Furthermore,

38% of employees said that they felt that working from home was ‘less stressful’ for the ‘quieter atmosphere’ (43%) and the benefit of less distractions (44%).  While it’s not possible for everyone, all of the time, having the flexibility and the tools to work from home when it suits provides great peace of mind and builds a strong relationship between employer and employee.  Ultimately healthy and happy employees result in happy customers and a more productive environment for everyone.

3.  A More Diverse Workplace

Flexible working makes it possible for parents to work, attracts a younger workforce and extends working opportunities for people living across a much wider geographical area.

The digital revolution has made it possible to now balance a career and family and to allow work commitments to blend more effectively with family time. Focusing on family, however, does not mean that employees need to slow down or work less. Competitive markets move fast and businesses that rise to the top do too.

Digital tools like real-time co-authoring now makes it possible for teams – wherever they are - to edit and contribute to documents at the same time. These cloud-based features automatically save as you go. It doesn’t matter whether each individual is working on the web, a desktop, a laptop or a mobile device – every change will be synced and saved to the cloud.

The role of Flexible Working Arrangements was addressed in a report by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs in Ireland, Balancing Work and Family Life.  The report revealed that “Ireland is rapidly becoming a nation of time poor families”. It went on to say that for companies and employees “family friendly working arrangements can play an important role in any overall pay and benefits package.”

The report stressed that the “achievement of an effective balance by men and women between the demands of the workplace and the home is of crucial importance to the long-term welfare and development of Irish society.”  Most importantly, it noted that:  “Family friendly working conditions and competitiveness are not a contradiction in terms”.

Do you want to modernise your workplace and change the way you do business in 2017?  A free e-book from Microsoft – ‘7 Ways to Work Smarter in the Cloud’ – reveals the steps here.

To learn more about how the practical ways in which cloud, mobile and social technology solutions can make your business more collaborative visit office.com/business.

 

Sponsored by: Microsoft

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